Kyle Busch frustrated despite Top-5 finish

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With the 2013 Chase for the Sprint Cup now down to its final five races after last night’s Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Kyle Busch knows that time is running out.

Busch finished fifth in the race, but was unable to gain ground in the points standings; in fact, he lost two more points to Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Matt Kenseth (who finished third) and now sits 37 points behind him in fifth place. And after crashing out at Kansas Speedway last weekend, Busch knows that finishing behind his main rivals in the championship won’t do anymore.

“We should be happy about [a Top-5], but when it’s championship time, that’s not what you need – we need wins and we can’t win,” Busch said. “…We’re not good enough. It’s frustrating, man. I’m beating myself up every week trying to figure out what I got to do to be better, and I don’t know what it is. I work hard through practice. I work hard through the week. I study film. I do everything I need to do — but it’s not paying off.

“We probably would have run third tonight without that last caution [with 28 laps to go]. We would have made up some points on some guys. Instead, we got beat by all the guys that we’re racing essentially…We need to win races and we’re not capable of doing that right now.”

Busch got into early trouble during his first pit stop of the night under yellow. A miscue by his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota team forced Busch to make a second stop and tossed him all the way to the rear of the field.

Undeterred, Busch roared back to the front and cracked the Top 5 before the midway mark. He was able to stay up in the lead pack for the remainder of the night despite apparent engine woes in the final laps; Busch thought at one point that the engine might be blowing up, but the team eventually figured the issue was due to burning too much fuel.

In any other situation, a Top-5 would be considered a good night, especially after Busch was able to cut through the field and get in contention again. But in the thick of a championship fight, “Rowdy” wanted – and needed – more.

“They say you need Top-5s to win a championship, but when you’re getting beat by the guys in front of you, then we’re just not good enough – flat-out,” he said. “I don’t know what to do to be better.

“It’s frustrating, but you know, I should be happy with a fifth, but we’re not. I’m not.”

Schmidt Peterson hires IndyCar’s first female lead engineer, will work with Hinchcliffe

Photo courtesy Audi Sport
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Leena Gade, who helped lead Audi to three wins in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, has joined Schmidt Peterson Motorsports as lead engineer for the No. 5 Arrow Electronics Honda of driver James Hinchcliffe.

“I’m really honored that I’ve got a chance to come across and work in INDYCAR,” Gade said in a team media release. “When I was a kid, I used to watch Indy car (racing), especially when Nigel Mansell first came over (in 1993), and I followed it quite a lot.

“During my sports car days, it was a little less so, until I had friends come across to the U.S. to work in it like Piers (Phillips, SPM’s general manager).

“I’m quite honored to be given the chance. It is going to be something completely different to anything I’ve ever done before, so it’s a big learning curve, but it’s a challenge that I’m really relishing, so I’m looking forward to it.”

Gade, who grew up in India and is from Great Britain, is one of the most recognized engineers in all forms of international motorsports. She becomes the first female lead engineer in Verizon IndyCar Series history.

She’s also the second female lead engineer in Indy racing history, joining Diane Holl, who served as engineer for Adrian Fernandez, Tony Kanaan (Tasman Motorsports) and Richie Hearn (Della Penna Motorsports) in CART from 1996-2000.

Gade, who holds engineering degrees from the University of Manchester in England, has engineered cars in several race series and for several manufacturers, including F1, BMW, A1 Grand Prix, GT racing, Jaguar, Audi and most recently with Bentley Motorsport.

She became the first female race engineer to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2011, and followed that up with another Le Mans win in 2012, as well as being part of the World Endurance Championship drivers and manufacturers titles in the same year.

Also in 2012, she was named FIA WEC “Man of the Year” and was awarded the C&R Racing Women in Technology award from the Lyn St. James Women in the Winner’s Circle Foundation.

Her team also won Le Mans for a third time in 2014.

“There was significant interest in Leena amongst the international motorsports community, so we’re really excited that she sees where we’re taking SPM, believes in what we’re doing and that she is now a part of our organization,” Piers Phillips said. “ I’ve known Leena for quite some time now and I’ve worked alongside her, so I knew the credit she’s been given is well deserved. We’re very much looking forward to throwing her into the deep end and seeing her add to the team’s success.”

Gade and Hinchcliffe go into the deep end that Phillips referenced when they take part in a team test Jan. 24 at Sebring International Raceway, the first time the pair will work together.